8. Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa
Photo of the Croscat Volcano from Wikipedia
The Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa is a volcanic park of some 12,000 hectares. The road passes through a beautiful wooded landscape, climbing and dipping around craters and lava flows, offering some lovely valley views. The 30 volcanoes have been dormant for 11,500 years, and luxuriant vegetation masks their contours This area is a walker’s paradise, with a great variety of flora and fauna, and numerous cascades and natural swimming pools for a quick and cold summer dip. More than 1500 species of vascular plant have been recorded within the park, and a phenomenal 143 species of birds have been observed in the region, including short-toed treecreepers, firecrests, hawfinches, crag martins, blue rock thrushes, rock sparrows and cirl buntings. In spring, swathes of hepatica, yellow and wood anemones, pinnate coralroot, Pulmonaria affinis and Pyrenean squill in flower in the low-lying beech and oak forests. Butterflies include the scarce swallowtail, Spanish festoon, Bath and wood whites, Cleopatra, Chapman’s green hairstreak, Moroccan orange tip, violet fritillary and the curious map butterfly. Forest dwelling mammals include beech martens, wildcats, genets, badgers and wild boar, as well as a number of small insectivores. Otters have also been sighted along the rivers. Note that it is best to visit this area during the week. On weekends, especially in autumn, the park can be full of Barcelonian day-trippers looking for rovellons etc.
Around the web
The Volcanic Region of La Garrotxa (official web)
The greatest example of volcanic landscape in the Iberian Peninsula. It has around forty volcanic cones and over 20 basalt lava flows. The relief, sun and climate provide varied, often exuberant, vegetation: holm oak woods, oak woods and beech woods of exceptional landscape value
La Garrotxa (barcelona-metropolitan)
For more than two millennia, the Via del Capsacosta was the main connection between the Pyrenees and the northern Catalan coast. Built by the Romans some 200 years before Christ, it was a sturdy, stone-paved road that cut through the flatlands and wound around mountains… After a recent trip to the nearby Parque Natural de la Garrotxa, where one can explore some of the peninsula’s oldest dormant volcanoes, I drove to the Vall de Bianya to see a part of the old via for myself. I was intrigued with the idea of walking along an authentic Roman road, one once used by now-anonymous soldiers, traders, herdsmen and migrating families